When the Baltimore Ravens play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, most fans watching the game will focus on the ball and the ball carrier. However, those football purists know the games are won and lost in the trenches and that might be where you want to keep your eyes.
Trench warfare in the NFL can be brutal, with massive men colliding over and over again to decide if the play goes as planned or horribly wrong. One side's responsibility is to protect and open holes while the other's job is to disrupt and prevent.
In this game the match-up to watch should come down to if the Ravens left tackle, Michael Oher, can slow down Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware. Ware already has five sacks and three forced fumbles, and that doesn't even begin to figure in the numerous hurries, QB hits and other disruptive behavior. His 19.5 sacks last year solidified him as one of the top pass rushers in the league.
The attention the Ravens pay to Ware, be it with another lineman, fullback or tight end staying in pass protection to assist Oher, could not only open up the line for other Cowboys to pressure and disrupt, but limit the number of receivers the team sends out on pass plays.
Questions have existed since Oher was moved back to left tackle in place of Bryant McKinnie at the beginning of the season. Another tough outing for Oher will raise those questions to chants to bring back McKinnie, who you might see at times in Sunday's game. There are those who still feel that the Ravens offensive line would be improved if Bryant were to return to the left tackle position and Michael back to the right side.
Watch this match-up from the first snap of the game to see if Oher can at least slow Ware down, since completely stoping him is probably out of the question, unless you have Jonathan Ogden in there.